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Human Rights Watch honours six activists

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - New York, October 4, 2010 – Six relentless and courageous advocates of human rights will be honored in November 2010, with the prestigious Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, Human Rights Watch said today. All six have faced substantial threats of violence or imprisonment, but they continue to speak out and to work to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.

The award is named after Dr. Alison Des Forges, senior adviser to Human Rights Watch's Africa division for almost two decades, who was tragically killed in a plane crash in New York on February 12, 2009. Des Forges was the world's leading expert on Rwanda, the 1994 genocide, and its aftermath. Human Rights Watch's annual award honors her outstanding commitment to and defense of human rights. It celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others.

The six winners of Human Rights Watch's 2010 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism are:

• Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights;
• Elena Milashina, an investigative journalist for Russia's leading independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta;
• Yoseph Mulugeta, former secretary general of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council;
• Steave Nemande, a medical doctor who is president of Alternatives-Cameroun, an organization that advocates decriminalization of homosexuality in Africa;
• Sussan Tahmasebi, a civil and women's rights activist from Iran and founding member of the One Million Signatures Campaign; and
• Liu Xiaobo, a former university professor and Tiananmen Square activist currently in prison for his involvement with Charter 08, a pro-democracy petition.

"We're inspired by the courage and commitment of these extraordinary activists," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "They confront discrimination and danger every day in their struggle to pressure their governments to uphold human rights for all."

Human Rights Watch staff work closely with the human rights defenders as part of the organization's research on some 90 countries around the world. The defenders will be honored at the 2010 Human Rights Watch annual dinners in Amsterdam, Chicago, Geneva, Hamburg, London, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Oslo, Paris, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Toronto, and Zurich.

Click here to read about the award winners
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